Be sure to read Day One first!
My mouth vacuumed onto the pillow, performing mouth-to-mouth resuscitation with it, inhaling a few feathers that shot down my throat with the strength of a cannonball. Something about pressing my lips to the pillow reassured me as I slept.
It felt maternal, like suckling a breast. Freud would have had a field day with me, I realized as I awoke gently.
When the staff slid me into my day clothes, I thought about where I was. What had brought me here.
Wednesday had already sweat through his thin t-shirt and gulped down cup after cup of water. The attendant standing next to him watched him as though he could drown himself in those tiny eight-ounce cups. I guess if you really wanted to die in this place, you could find a way. But he wasn’t going to drown. He was no different than any of us. We were lab specimens clinging to a Petri dish. None of us could die. It would have disrupted the experiment.
It was a short day. The announcements were clipped; though it was just the mercenaries and me – eight residents in total – our bones rub one another’s, our skeletons learning each other in ways our facilitators would discourage. I’m a tinned sardine swimming in a pool of oil, crushed next to another tinned sardine.
We couldn’t breathe this way. We aren’t meant to live in a tin with a lid only certain hands can peel back.
I tried to warn the others, but I choked. I couldn’t breathe, the oil too thick, our pool too deep.
Still I sputtered as they pulled me from our sardine can, choking on brackish waters or olive oil for flavoring. Nothing felt right. I was in an office. Something was wrong. He had a yardstick for a spine rigid and unyielding. His hair was sparse and he had wrinkles on either side of his thin lips like a Glasgow smile, slashes that ran vertical instead of horizontal. Wrinkles creased his forehead like deeply folded stationery. His cigarette crackled in its ash tray, unnerving me, but he knew it.
It was a test.
Maybe not as obvious as Rorschach, but it held me captive. The modern equivalent of handing me a bite block and pulsing me with electrical stimuation.
They intended to provoke a reaction in me, but I refused to surrender. This was a marvelous ship, and as its captain, I insisted on sinking with it.
No one could call me a coward.